“And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” Revelation 9:13-21 (all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
If the biblical historcists view is correct, and the first woe represented the advent of the terror and lechery of Islam and other false religions, then it is clearly true that this is a terrible woe, indeed, since there has been no darker shadow to fall upon the face of the earth than that twisted and evil advent. There is no greater hate than that generated by the degeneracy of false religion, nor greater darkness than that engendered by blasphemies against the God of Heaven. But we must also admit that this is a continuing woe – not limited to a season only. Consider the increasing evils being foisted upon Christian, and non-Christian, communities in the Middle East and elsewhere today. The acts of cruelty and immorality are unmentionable.
As we examine the text today in the latter half of this chapter, we see that the second woe of this sixth trumpet is followed by a proclamation from the “four horns of the golden altar which is before God.” This warning pronouncement of a judgment comes from God! One conclusive lesson to be gleaned from this passage is the fact that the “leopard cannot change his spots.” (Jeremiah 13:23) Why can a leopard not change his spots? It is because the spots of the leopard are not only in his coat of fur, but on his very skin. The spots are part of the leopard’s nature. Notice the great hurt and plagues endured by the wicked of the world mentioned above. Note also their persistence in worshipping devils, idols of gold, and of silver, and brass and stone. These latter materials only possess a small earthly value, yet these miscreants will suffer all manner of pain rather than denounce them. Note also that they persist in the worship of devils as well. So it is with the modern world, and I am afraid, the modern church in adhering to their paltry material advantages in money and palatial buildings.
Fire, smoke, and brimstone are most often associated in Scripture with judgment such as that experienced by the sodomizers of Sodom. “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.” (Genesis 19:24-25) Pray tell, how long shall the Lord withhold His hand of judgment against a nation that makes a mockery of the Holy Estate of Matrimony and gives a pseudo-respectability to homosexual marriages? Sodom received the full measure of God’s judgment, and so will any nation who succumbs to this hideous abomination.
These four angels that emerge from the River Euphrates are earthly powers who arise in the Middle Eastern countries just as the Prince of Persia who fought against the angel sent by God to Daniel did arise from that Euphrates environ and attempted to withstand the Archangel Michael who came to stand with the first angel. “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” (Daniel 10:13)
God is the Author and Finisher of our faith – not we ourselves. He calls and chooses. His elect hear and respond. But the wicked are predestined to a terrible and pernicious fall into the ruins of the everlasting torments spoken of by our Lord and this Book. They are not able to change because their natures are like the leopard’s spots and the marks of their evil dispositions go deeper than the surface only.
The number of the horsemen has been a source of much contention and sensational views. To be honest, I do not believe any can say with certainty what these mean until the time that the Lord removes the seal from this part of the book for us to grasp the meaning. I will point out some observations of the matter only for the reader to consider. Two hundred thousand thousand is the exact equivalent of 200 million. I know that God uses earthly powers and resources often in bringing judgment on a people, such as locust and fiery serpents. There is only one nation today that can field an army of 200 million – Red China.
You will recall the ten plagues of Egypt, and the resultant effects. In the end, all devastating plagues were finally ignored by Pharaoh and his armies. You may aver that the sovereign relented at the last plague of the death of all first born in Egypt (including his son). But this is incorrect. He at first permitted the Children of Israel to leave Egypt, but then recanted and sent his armies after them in spite of the proof of the wrath of the Almighty God upon him and his people. He suffered for that breech of judgment more fully than for all of the other plagues given when he and his armies were destroyed in the converging waters of the sea.
I am amazed at the tenacity of the wicked in adhering to wickedness and sin despite the repeated warnings of Heaven. But I should not be so amazed since the America that I love is also ignoring every sign and signal from the Lord against our depraved social order which we have learned from the same serpent of the Garden as that serpent that beguiled our primitive mother. After rejecting the biblical morality that attended our Founders in establishing the United States as a nation of peculiar blessing and providential guidance, we have witnessed a complete breakdown in the social order of America. Our youth practice some of the most perverse forms of sexual relations; our common folk are succumbing in greater numbers to drug and alcohol addiction, and we stumble, as a nation, just as drunk men groping for a lantern post whose light has been extinguished by our own choice of darkness. As these obvious patterns of decay and decadence grow larger, instead of amending our ways, we opt for even greater depths of sin and depravity.
If this chapter of Revelation does not apply directly to our land and times, it at least must apply secondarily to us. No part of God’s Word is written to apply to a single people and time, but has eternal ramification and application to all peoples to whom its meaning is made clear in God’s Word. If our sins rise to the level of Sodom, do not expect a different outcome in judgment.